In the case of Ameet Bhatia & Anr v Devyani International Ltd A lawsuit was brought against Devyani International Ltd., which manages restaurants like Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. in India, in order to recover Rupees 1,52,77,020 plus interest. In this case, the landlord-plaintiffs claimed that the tenant had occupied the leased property without paying rent and that they had not made timely rent payments.
The Tenant said that it had provided the Landlord with a notice of termination and had promptly left the property after issuing a three-month notice. The renter further informed the court that it had offered to give the landlord the keys to the abandoned property in this regard. However, the tenant claimed that the landlord had declined to accept the keys and take back possession due to unpaid rent and property damage.
The landlord claim that the property was damaged and some items were laying around in the basement. Additionally, they staked a claim to recoup unpaid rent.
Observation of the Court
According to District Judge Vineeta Goyal of the Patiala House Court in Delhi, a landlord cannot refuse to return the rented property to the tenant because the property was damaged. The bench decided that in the event that the landlord declines to accept the tenant’s offer of possession, the possession will be regarded to have been given to the landlord.
The court stated that it was “well-established” that the landlord could not refuse to take possession of the suit property upon lease determination on the grounds that it has been damaged or has not been restored to its original position. The court relied on the Delhi High Court’s decision in HS Bedi v. National Highway Authority of India to make this observation. The court further stated that landlords could not thereafter file a lawsuit to recover unpaid rent for the time following the tenant’s vacation of the property by failing to immediately take absolute possession from the tenant.
It is established on record that the defendant’s lease was determined in October 2020, when the defendant offered the possession to the landlord-plaintiff who deliberately chose not to take the possession, so the possession of the suit property is deemed to have been delivered to the plaintiff, the court concluded after carefully weighing the competing claims of the parties, applying well-established legal principles, and following the dictum given in H.S. Bedi case. However, after modifying a security deposit previously paid by the tenant, the Court granted partial relief to the landlords and determined that they were entitled to rent payments for the time period from April 2020 to October 2020.